St George Preca was a Maltese priest and the founder of the Society of Christian Doctrine.
He was born in Valletta on 12 February 1880, the seventh of nine children.
Early in his childhood, his family moved to Hamrun, where he joined the church as an altar boy.
Despite suffering from serious lung problem, he was ordained on 22 December 1906.
As a priest he would often head to the Grand Harbour, board the Royal Navy warships berthed there, and introduce himself to the sailors by offering them free cigarettes.
His intelligence, wit and humour entertained the men and soon the young cleric would lead his audience to spiritual matters.
Using his charismatic force and personality, he launched the Society of Christian Doctrine in March 1907.
It eventually spread around the world, first among Maltese migrants in Australia, then in Britain, Peru, Albania, Sudan and other countries.
Today, it consists of approximately 20,000 members.
Fr Preca passed way on 1962. His funeral was a monument to his deeds, with more than 20,000 people gathering in Hamrun to pay their respects.
The case for the sanctification of Fr George Preca was started in 1975 by Archbishop Sir Michael Gonzi.
He was beatified on the 9 May 2001 by Pope John Paul II, and declared saint on the 3 June 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI.
In his homily, Benedict called St George Preca ‘a great friend of Jesus’.